Joey P. Mánlapaz


I discovered my obsession with layers of overlapping shapes and colors after staring and being mesmerized for countless hours at glass storefront windows around the city. I became so fascinated with the interplay of reflections on the glass surface superimposed over what was visible inside the interior. Armed with an old fashioned 35 mm camera, I adjusted the lens to capture differing depths of field and took numerous pictures of glass surfaces to use as reference material to produce my oil paintings. The resultant photos were not always clear because of the multiple layers of images reflected on the glass. As I planned my compositions, I decided to paint on large-scale canvases to give the sense of standing in front of a storefront window.

Scrutinizing with some difficulty at each photo’s complex jumble of information, I realized that I was also struggling in my personal life. The tumult I associated with painting these intricate visual patterns, mirrored the pain I felt during a painful breakup from a significant relationship.

From this period of personal and emotional strain, I produced a body of work “Reflections” that is technically and visually complex. I came to understand upon completion of each painting that the glass surface on the photos was no different from the ego, which guards our vulnerability. Glass protects the interior of the shop while ego protects the interior of the self. Glass distorts imagery just as ego falsifies the individual.

Initially I referred to this series as ‘reflections’ to signify the literal reflection of objects on glass surfaces. But it turned out that this series was also a reflection of a period in my life where I experienced the most sorrow, but from which I gained significant inner growth and knowledge. Through this series, I learned that engaging in mutual misrepresentation of our real selves did not allow for full recognition of our true intentions.

I painted myself in each of my paintings since each one is a self-portrait of my internal turmoil. Hiding behind glass, I “reflect” back to the world only those parts of myself that I wish to expose; thus I show only ego. When one looks at my paintings, I ask for stillness because my work is complicated to look at, it’s emotional and yet cerebral that demands deep analysis and psychological dialogue. What do you see? The image is unclear and fragmented. At one point you think you see clearly but at close inspection comes more puzzlement. I ask the viewer to look intently at my paintings. I’m hiding behind a glass wall and I’m looking back at you but all I see is your glass wall too. It’s ironic but it seems that everywhere, glass walls are all you see.